Richard Ingrams: Not everyone wants to see wild animals protected

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The Independent Online

Every journalist knows that if you want to get a rise out of your readers you have only to write disparagingly about animals, preferably dogs or cats. The same applies, albeit to a lesser extent, to birds.

Angered by some of my recent comments about the savagery of red kites, a correspondent in The Independent, whose letter has been reprinted in The Week magazine, suggests that I would, no doubt, be pleased to learn that there are estimated to be only 3,000 tigers now left in India.

In this context I have often quoted GK Chesterton's remark that where there is animal worship there is human sacrifice. So when it comes to tigers, there might be many people in this country, like my correspondent, who would be upset by the decline in tigers, but also a great many of those people living in rural India who might feel extremely relaxed about the prospect.

As for all the ecologists, it is hard for them to resist the argument that the reason there are fewer and fewer tigers is that there are more and more Indians. And there are plenty of very respectable and distinguished people, like Sir David Attenborough and the Duke of Edinburgh, who campaign against the growth of the world's population, not on behalf of their fellow human beings but because they see it as a threat to all the animals like those Indian tigers.

Let's just knock down Television Centre

It doesn't seem so long ago that BBC journalists were made to move out of Broadcasting House in central London to Television Centre at Shepherd's Bush. Now they are being told that they have to move back to Broadcasting House while Television Centre is to put up for sale as part of an economy drive.

But who would want to buy Television Centre? It's in an unappealing part of town, and I'm told that the roofs leak and that there are rats on the premises. Apart from that, the building, equipped as it is with studios and newsrooms, has only one purpose in life – ie to be the BBC's Television Centre.

The best thing to do with it, now that the BBC no longer wants it, would be to knock it down and build some much-needed council housing. But that is impossible. Television Centre – in the eyes of the untutored onlooker a rain-stained dump – is nowadays regarded as an architectural gem, an outstanding example of cutting-edge 1960s design. It has to be preserved at all costs.

The same thing happened with Battersea Power Station, which once it ceased to be a power station, was no longer fit for purpose. But it's still there, quietly rotting away while, from time to time, improbable plans are made to turn it into a fun fair or even a mosque. And if you read about it you will be guaranteed to be told that it's iconic.

I'm frightened by this 'brave new world'

To those of us who remember the long-running debate about abortion, there is bound to be a been-there-done-that feeling when it comes to euthanasia. And, indeed, some of those who campaigned against abortion on demand pointed out at the time that it wouldn't be long before the same kind of arguments that were used to justify it would be used in favour of euthanasia. They have been proved right.

And, as happened before, it's the media and in particular the BBC who will lead the campaign in favour of "death with dignity", and the opponents who will be branded as assorted old-fashioned religious bigots spouting what Trotsky once called "the Quaker-papist babble about the sanctity of human life".

Anyone of my age must hope that they don't live long enough to witness the dawn of the brave new world in which euthanasia, assisted suicide or whatever it gets to be called, is looked upon as run-of- the-mill, and oldies live in fear of becoming a burden to their loved ones or to the state.

In my own personal case, that goes with a hope that I don't live long enough to survive in a world in which there are no longer any books, any newspapers, any cheques, any checkout girls, any post offices or any letters.